Human Rights Watch Urges China to End Crackdown on Tibetan Monasteries

DHARAMSHALA, India: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Chinese government to immediately remove excessive security measures imposed on Tibetans in Tibet, particularly in Ngaba and Karze counties in northeastern and eastern Tibet, where seven Tibetans self-immolated in protest against the repressive measures.

Since the 2008 protest in Tibet, the Chinese government has imposed drastic restrictions on Tibetan monasteries in Ngaba, which include brutal security raids, arbitrary detentions of monks, increased surveillance within monasteries, and a permanent police presence inside monasteries to monitor religious activities, HRW said in a report on 12 October.
“These measures appear to have fueled tensions between Tibetans and Chinese authorities in the region, contributing to desperate acts of protest by individuals, including self-immolations, the latest two on 7 October 2011,” it said.

“Security measures designed to curtail the right to free expression, association, and religious belief in Tibetan monasteries are not legitimate,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

“Even worse, those measures are exacerbating the tensions. Instead, the government should address the region’s underlying grievances,” Richardson added.

“The increase in government spending on security in Ngaba and Karze in eastern Tibet since 2002 has contributed to provocative policing techniques such as monastery blockades and the mass detentions of monks that have repeatedly contributed to local discontent and unrest,” the rights group said in its assessment of the government statistics.

“The increased security measures appear to have been a major factor in the escalation of tensions that have led to several protests in which monks tried to set themselves on fire to bring attention to the situation in Ngaba,” it noted.

The rights group urged the Chinese government to release information about the whereabouts and well-being of all the monks forcibly removed from Kirti, to ensure that its maintenance of public security does not encroach on internationally guaranteed rights, and to address Tibetans’ fundamental grievances.

It also urged all governments concerned with human rights in China to articulate publicly their concerns about the deteriorating environment, and to press the Chinese government to address Tibetans’ rights.